August 26, 2009


One evening this summer, Elsa suddenly decided that she was interested in one Maine college, Bowdoin. It's ranked # 6 in US News and World Reports and it's even more selective than her other choices. Terrific! Chris had told her how beautiful it is, so Elsa decided to investigate. She contacted the soccer coach and arranged a tour and a meeting for shortly after her arrival in Portland. Unfortunately, she couldn't interview on the same day, so I scheduled an interview for her for the following week, on the day we collected Jeremy from camp and Elsa and Chris from New Harbor.

The day of our visit was sunny and hot. The campus looked especially gorgeous, but as we walked around, I wondered how often it looked and felt like this, warm and pleasant, during the school year. We did a 1:30 tour with Melissa and a 2:30 information session with an admissions officer and a student. It was Jonathan's, Jeremy's and our dog, Phoebe's first college tour.

There is a warm and welcoming feeling about Bowdoin. The school doesn't feel pretentious or as indifferent to visitors as Brown did. And, I have to say, that it felt more relaxed even than Wesleyan does to me. Maybe that's because we visited during the summer. (Of course, we were also at Wesleyan during the summer as well.) I also have to say that the information session was not as specific and informative as it might have been. I cannot now clearly articulate what makes Bowdoin Bowdoin.

I get that it is rigorous, and intellectual, and there seems to be a degree of flexibility. The student presenter described an Italian class that met in a cafe outside of class to chat and practice conversational Italian. The campus is breathtaking, and one, like Dickinson in Carlisle and Brown in Providence, that is sprinkled into the town of Brunswick, a very cute and happening little Maine town where Jonathan actually used to live. Bowdoin is also close to Portland, which is appealing as well.

Bowdoin was founded on the principle of "the common good." Quoting the viewbook that is: "...the belief that education should be used to improve the lives of others and not for personal gain.* Nice.

What I like most about Bowdoin is the information it provides on its financial aid web site. There are two pod casts on there with Bowdoin financial aid officers giving general FA information, as well as information specific to Bowdoin applicants. Simply by offering such helpful and encouraging assistance makes me, as a parent, feel that our daughter is encouraged to apply both to the school and for financial aid. So, I guess we're adding another "reach" school to the list. Our next job is to whittle the list down to 10 schools. We'll post when we do.

All photos on this post were taken by Chris Bittner. (My camera battery died.)

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